Before Sunday, this was supposed to be a nightmare loss for the Miami Dolphins. This was supposed to be practice for one of the most productive scoring triumvirates for the NFL 2016 season: rarely-touched Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, hybrid RB Le'Veon Bell and fantasy- stud WR Antonio Brown. When planning for the Steelers, it’s usually more like picking your choice of poison. Vegas didn’t favor us. This game was probably a “W” already on the Steelers schedule. What happened? The simple answer:
The Miami Dolphins played 60 minutes of almost- perfect American professional football, winning 30-15. I’m guessing at what our organizational problem is, before I review our great game. You can coin this new term; we suffer from “competivitis.” We have a bad habit of playing to the level of our competition. Our current record is a reflection of my theory. Winning vs. the Steelers. Challenging the Seahawks and Patriots. Barely winning vs. the Browns. Losing to the Titans and not showing up against the Bengals. I would continue to preach about how to solve this problem, but let’s be happy Dolphins fans and review these great 5 takeaways from this game.
Did I say “great” post-game review? -A standing “O” for the O-Line: These guys deserved to be mentioned this week by name. Laremy Tunsil, Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey, Ja'Wuan James and Jermon Bushrod. This reincarnation of the O-Line played like they had something to prove. What better display than creating running lanes through a vulnerable Steel Curtain? By the way, these guys collectively get the DH Award for this week. QB Ryan Tannehill almost looked surprisingly football-clean at the end of Sunday’s game.
Red Zone Finishes: No touchdown passes? I’m ok with that this week, considering three rushing touchdowns and three field goals. I feel much better about 30 vs the Steelers than I feel towards the 30 points vs. Browns. We were supposed to get that total, maybe more, vs the Dawg Pound; -Tackling: Our defense harassed Big Ben, Bell and Brown all game long. We ran through their front five and took away their comfort zones. We hampered their game plan, results and their record. Two sacks and two interceptions? It’s too early to have the league take notice. Let’s get a few more wins at home and stay hungry, and not get complacent.
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Run, Jay, Run: RB Jay Ajayi had a career day with approximately 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. This is what a running back is supposed to do. This is the reason that RBs are usually listed as skill or threat players. He is the other recipient of the DH Award this week. However, this raises the RB question of necessity for Arian Foster, should Ajayi continue to have games like this.
60 Minutes: All units (offense, defense, special teams) of our team played from start to finish. If we continue to play consistently from start to finish every week, can everybody say playoffs? I remain cautiously optimistic here. Next week, we’re getting a little R and R coming down to Hard Rock. When Rex Ryan and the Bills roll into Miami, we need to play them like we played the Steelers.